Comedy is lively, comedy is joy, and that's what keeps us [people] going, we've got to look forward to little, little happiness's. Little, little joys, and comedy is very, very important, it's a vital. We underestimate its value, but we should see more comedies. Comedy is life giving, it's invigorating. I really believe it.
Let's have a merry journey, and shout about how light is good and dark is not. What we should do is not future ourselves so much. We should now ourselves. "Now thyself" is more important than "know thyself." Reason is what tells us to ignore the present and live in the future. So all we do is make plans. We think that somewhere there are going to be green pastures. It's crazy. Heaven is nothing but a grand, monumental instance of future. Listen, now is good. Now is wonderful.
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The Twelve Chairs is about the same thing. It's all about money or love. We know we need money, we know we have to get money, we know we have to hurt others to get money. But we don't know until maybe it's a little too late in life that love is the most important thing. Love, friendship, affection, bonhomie, whatever. Those are the only things that really count: to love and be loved.
Jewish women are very exciting, as exciting sexually as any other group. Even so, my advice to a young man marrying a Jewish girl would be to have three and a half years of foreplay. Of course, most girls in every group are reserved about getting down to it. They don't usually do it right away. But once they do it, women are bananas. They don't wanna do it, you can't make them do it, there's no way they'll do it - but once they do it, they don't let you alone.
I try to give my work everything I've got, because when you're dead or you're out of the business or you're in an old actors' home somewhere, if you've done a good job, your work will still be 16 years old and dancing and healthy and pirouetting and arabesquing all over the place. And they'll say, "That's who he is! He's not this decaying skeleton."
I started with [Leo] Tolstoy and I was overwhelmed. Tolstoy writes like an ocean, in huge, rolling waves, and it doesn't look like it was processed through his thinking. It feels very natural. You don't question whether Tolstoy's right or wrong. His philosophy is housed in interrelating characters, so it's not up for grabs.
Be interested in everything. You don't have to adore it. I don't adore hip-hop, I don't think it's great music, but I'm interested, I listen. I watch a lot of new films, I see everything. I still read, I like books, whether they are old books, new books. I'm interested - you gotta stay interested!
I was adored [as a kid]. I was always in the air, hurled up and kissed and thrown in the air again. Until I was six, my feet didn't touch the ground. "Look at those eyes! That nose! Those lips! That tooth! Get that child away from me, quick! I'll eat him!" Giving that up was very difficult later on in life.
In real life people fart, in the movies, people don't. Why not? Farts are a repressed minority. The mouth gets to say all kinds of things, but the other place is supposed to keep quiet. But maybe our lower colons have something interesting to say. Maybe we should listen to them. Farts are human, more human than a lot of people I know. I think we should bring them out of the water closet and into the parlor.
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When I'm writing a script, I don't worry about plot as much as I do about people. I get to know the main characters - what they need, what they want, what they should do. That's what gets the story going. You can't just have action, you've got to find out what the characters want. And then they must grow, they must go somewhere.
You often hear that people go into show business to find the love they never had when they were children. Never believe it! Every comic and most of the actors I know had a childhood full of love. Then they grew up and found out that in the grown-up world, you don't get all that love, you just get your share. So they went into show business to recapture the love they had known as children when they were the center of the universe.
The more serious the situation, the funnier the comedy can be. The greatest comedy plays against the greatest tragedy. Comedy is a red rubber ball and if you throw it against a soft, funny wall, it will not come back. But if you throw it against the hard wall of ultimate reality, it will bounce back and be very lively. Very, very few people understand this.
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When I was a little kid, if somebody said they were thirty-five, I'd say "Oooh, they're going to die soon". But as I get older it doesn't mean a thing. You mustn't ever give in. Never give in to thinking you're old, because you're never old. Your mind, and I tell you this and listen to me carefully, your mind is never, ever old, it's eternally young.
Feeling different, feeling alienated, feeling persecuted, feeling that the only way to deal with the world is to laugh - because if you don't laugh you're going to cry and never stop crying - that's probably what's responsible for the Jews having developed such a great sense of humor. The people who had the greatest reason to weep, learned more than anyone else how to laugh.
What ignited the rocket that sent you up into the vast regions of comedy, and why? I would say, for me, that philosophical treatise about having black beginnings and wanting love to compensate for that, wanting audiences and wanting attention - I say, "Au contraire." Completely opposite. I want the continuation of my mother's incredible love and attention to me.
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